Monday, April 30, 2018

APY lands — drugs and alcohol, child sexual abuse, family and domestic violence, unemployment

Indigenous children no safer from abuse than a decade ago

Children living in remote Aboriginal communities in South Australia’s far north are no safer from sexual abuse than they were a decade ago, with Premier Steven Marshall warning there is no silver bullet for the “very significant” issues.

Ten years ago today former Supreme Court judge Ted Mullighan revealed widespread sexual abuse of children and substantial under-reporting of incidents in his “Children on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands” report.

A raft of recommendations were adopted by the state government, but Sue Tilley, a researcher for the Mullighan inquiry and Uniting Communities’ manager of indigenous policy and advocacy, said there was no evidence this “box-ticking exercise” had made children in the APY lands any safer.

“It was a missed opportunity,” she told The Australian. “They could have done a whole lot more in terms of having a sustained approach, an on-the-ground embedded approach, working with families rather than a mere fly-in, fly-out ­approach.”

A royal commission into South Australia’s child protection system reported in 2016 that there was no reason to ­believe the incidence of child sexual abuse in the APY lands had reduced since the Mullighan inquiry.

The state’s Department of Child Protection has ­inves­tigated 319 allegations of child abuse in the area since July. Mr Marshall, who oversees the Aboriginal affairs portfolio, said solving the “very significant” issues in the APY lands would be one of his government’s biggest challenges.

“There are serious social problems on the APY lands — drugs and alcohol, child sexual abuse, family and domestic violence, unemployment — but there is no silver bullet,’’ he said.

A Child Protection Department spokeswoman said six APY lands-based workers had started in the past six months.

- The Australian 30-4-2018
This report has a familiar ring to it. People express shock and outrage at dysfunctional remote indigenous communities. Government responds by holding an inquiry and / or Royal Commission. Ten years later the cycle is repeated. See my earlier blog about this: dysfunctional community syndrome in remote Queensland (and West Australia)

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